ILT STADIUM Southland chairman Alan Dennis has welcomed the Invercargill City Council’s decision to allocate a one-off grant of $300,000 for 2018-19 and to look at other funding options in the future.
The Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust, which owns and operates ILT Stadium Southland, had asked the council to bump up its annual grant from $400,000 to $700,000 to help maintain the current standard of the venue.
The council’s initial recommendation was to decline the request and stick with the annual $400,000 grant.
However, at the council meeting on Tuesday night the majority of councillors showed support towards changing tact and boosting the annual funding.
It is understood if the council did not agree to the funding it could have resulted in stadium officials walking away from the venue, which in turn would have lumped the problem on to the council.
Cr Toni Biddle hinted at that when she spoke at the meeting.
“I think the impact of not supporting this could mean it ends up being another Rugby Park scenario where we were left to foot the bill for Rugby Park. I don’t think the ratepayers would appreciate it, considering it is only $300,000,” she said.
Cr Lindsay Abbott went as far as praising stadium officials for planning for maintenance which ensured it did not result in the problems which occurred at Rugby Park.
Cr Rebecca Amunsden suggested the council adopt a different plan where it agreed to a one-off $300,000 grant increase for this year to provide stadium officials and the council time to look into other funding options.
That option was agreed to, with Cr Lesley Soper voting against the one-off grant, or any increase in funding for the stadium.
Cr Karen Arnold also voiced concerns, suggesting shortfalls at the stadium needed to be sourced from elsewhere, but she did agree to Cr Amunsden’s recommendation.
It was agreed the council needed representation on the stadium board, which pleased Mr Dennis.
Mr Dennis said the one-off grant increase was a start and provided an ideal opportunity to work closer with the council to showcase how the stadium operated and the challenges it had.
He hoped with the council on board, ILT Stadium Southland officials might be able to further highlight why they felt the increase of $300,000 annually was a good investment for the city.
It also might provide the stadium with some more clout in terms of investigating ways to get other councils in Southland to contribute more, he said.
Mr Dennis added the council decision had put the stadium on notice as far as ensuring all cost-cutting and revenue-generating possibilities continued to be assessed.
The initial rates increase recomendation was 3.98%. However, with the various adjustments voted on at Tuesday’s council meeting, including the stadium grant, that has increased to 4.91% for 2018-19.